Visas 'a temporary fix'
Regarding "A sensible approach to immigration" (Our Views, May 14): The approach recommended, on the surface, appears to be a solution to the lack of workers in the critical fields of science and technology. But look a little deeper. First, the intent of the J1 student visas and the H1B visa programs are completely different.
The J1 visa was originally intended to provide educational opportunities for foreign students to study in the United States and return to their home countries to use the skills they learned to improve the standard of living there. It was enacted in 1961 at a time when many countries in the developing world lacked the colleges and universities for their students to study critical skills.
The H1B visa program is designed to fill temporary shortages of skilled workers in certain fields in the United States. Both of these are non-immigrant visas; they are given with the understanding that after a finite period of time they will expire, and the worker or student must leave.
The question must be asked: Why aren't there enough U.S. workers in the critical fields for which we are importing foreign labor? The answer should be obvious: We don't graduate enough U.S. students in the fields of science and technology. Could it be a failure of the K-12 education system?
In most high schools, with competing agendas, the basic sciences and math are on the back burner. If given the choice, most students will choose the easy path to a high school diploma. When I graduated from high school, albeit in the dark ages of 1959, I had to meet a requirement of four years of science and four years of math. I have spoken to some star graduates from high schools in the past few years, and frankly, some were barely literate. Social promotion seems to be the order of the day. No wonder they don't seek careers in the sciences, instead opting for less demanding fields of study. Several years ago I met a fellow who had joined the military because he couldn't get a job with his college degree. What field was his degree? Medieval history.
The issuance of visas should remain a temporary fix; otherwise, we will be denying our own students well-paying jobs on their graduation. And our schools should be overhauled top to bottom, with an increased stress on discipline, both academic and personal, and accountability by the system educating them.
Stranglehold on education
Regarding "FCAT passing grade lowered" (front page, May 16):
Why do we continue to reinvent, redesign and establish criteria that have done nothing but cripple our education system? Isn't it about time we get back to basics? The old system of teaching math, reading and writing was more effective in the past than now.
And who is truly establishing the criteria as to what subjects are taught in our schools, and how? The answer is the federal government, state governments and local school districts. Each doing what they think is right, yet putting a stranglehold in implementing an education system that should help every child.
A bad fix
Regarding "FCAT Passing grade lowered:" Incredulous! Pray tell, what is "an emergency fix"? So this teaches our youth that in case of failure we just lower the bar? I humbly suggest we either secure another test or scrap testing altogether.
The reliability and validity of the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test is damaged goods in this case and in future situations.
Land O' Lakes
Slave to creditors
Regarding your cartoon about student loans on May 15, "Trillions in the Red:" All of a sudden our president thinks debt is a bad thing? A lot of Americans are finding out the hard way that living beyond your means has a lot of unpleasant consequences. When you are in debt, you become a slave to the creditor — $16 trillion and counting. Wake up, America!